The National Law Journal recently addressed the widespread critical response to the American Tort Reform Association’s annual survey of so-called “judicial hellholes.” This year, Philadelphia ranked number 1 in the corporate-sponsored group’s annual survey set to be released soon. The survey is conducted by the American Tort Reform Association, a group in Washington fully backed by business groups, and pushes for – often divisive and prohibitive – changes to the tort system. The American Association for Justice spokesman dismissed the annual ranking, stating “Despite all the chemical companies and polluters behind this front group, it appears that the American Tort Reform Association is going green – recycling the same junk report that has been debunked and ridiculed year after year. It’s an early holiday token of thanks to its drug, tobacco, and insurance industry funders and a ploy for these corporations to continue their negligent behavior and avoid any accountability.” The statement continued that the effort is funded by negligent corporations and industries to undermine the civil justice system and prevent American workers and consumers from getting justice.
Illinois made an appearance in this year’s “judicial hellholes” list – of course to no surprise of Illinois personal injury lawyers or Illinois medical malpractice lawyers. Illinois has a long history of being a target for so-called “tort reform.” If you recall, Illinois Supreme Court Justice Kilbride was recently a target of a corporate-funded attack on his judicial retention. Despite widespread support from legal groups, judicial associations, and the fraternal order of police, corporate-funded out-of-state tort reform pushers sought to unseat Justice Kilbride through nasty attack advertisements. What did he do to deserve this unwanted attention? He simply sided with the majority of the Illinois Supreme Court in striking down an unconstitutional “cap” on compensation for victims of Illinois medical malpractice. Luckily, their corporate money failed to deter the retention election for Justice Kilbride in Illinois. However, other states and other judges should hold their ground and be vigilant as corporate-backed groups will likely try to continue to unseat judges they view as opposed to jury award limits.
To read more about the so-called judicial hellhole list, visit the National Law Journal.